Dennis Virtuoso is an asshole.
I thought about writing something less strident, less combative this morning, but I kept coming back to that first sentence because it was just so…well, so accurate.
For those of you just catching up, last night the Legislature confirmed a new member who will hold the 9th District seat in North Tonawanda, which has been vacant for a month. At the time the seat became vacant, Virtuoso was among the loudest voices demanding that the Legislature’s Majority Caucus act quickly to fill the seat.
So, they did just that. They sought applications, they held interviews, and they settled on a candidate. Actually, by “they”, I mean a bi-partisan panel that included Democrat Jason Cafarella. That panel then made a unanimous recommendation of a Democrat named Barbara Zellner, a 41-year-old former PTA president, homemaker, and waitress.
Now, I’ve never met Ms. Zellner, and doubt I ever will. Her political career is only guaranteed to be three months long. But I can assure you right now, Barbara Zellner has a lot more class than Dennis Virtuoso.
Why do I say this? Because Virtuoso is a back-stabber who doesn’t have the balls to insult someone to their face, that’s why.
Last night, the Legislature confirmed Zellner unanimously—following in the steps of the hiring committee (the one that Cafarella sat on) which, as I mentioned, recommended her unanimously. A friend who witnessed the spectacle in the chamber actually was impressed by the Democrats’ willingness to support the nominee unanimously. Maybe common sense, or human decency, or just the realization that Zellner would only be a legislator for three months had settled in.
Of course, Virtuoso didn’t mind blasting his new colleague for “reporter” Mark Scheer of the Niagara Gazette. Because Zellner decided to caucus with the Majority, Dennis called her a “turncoat” and much worse. And, he decided to make himself the arbiter of what constitutes a “real” Democrat. But most despicably, he decided to unload on a colleague who’s going to spend all of three months in the Legislature—three months!
Honestly, I’m not quite sure what Virtuoso expected. If you’re a legislator, and have all of three months to make an impact, are you really going to go sit in a minority that only holds a quarter—a pathetic QUARTER—of the seats in the chamber? Or are you going to go where the power is and where you just might get to make an actual difference and take care of your constituents?
Of course, maybe the fact the Dennis showed absolutely no interest in this process had something to do with it. A friend in the Legislature tells me that Majority Leader Rick Updegrove from Lockport attended the interviews with both candidates for the job, while Dennis was nowhere to be found. (Incidentally, the interviews were held in Sanborn—closer to Virtuoso’s house than Updegrove’s.) If you were Zellner, you might conclude that Updegrove actually gives a damn about the Legislature and the business of governing and decide he’s the leader you want to follow, since Dennis couldn’t even show up.
What’s really sad, though, is that Dennis Virtuoso—a man with plenty of political enemies—had a chance to open a door and start off a new relationship with a new colleague with whom he had no history, no fights, no baggage…but maybe, just maybe, some common ground. And by this morning, he had already slammed that door shut.
It’s no wonder he can’t even get Democrats to join his caucus.
What a tool.